Sierra Club joins other groups in defending Longmont’s fracking ban and drilling regulations
By Lauren Swain
RMC Oil & Gas Campaign Communications Specialist
On Monday, March 11, in the Weld County District Court, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law Environmental Law Clinic represented Sierra Club, Our Longmont, Earthworks, and Food and Water Watch in moving to defend Longmont’s ban on hydraulic fracturing and related surface activities against a Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) lawsuit. As of this writing, the case is in the process of being moved to Boulder County. You can follow the latest news on this and other oil and gas issues on our RMC Facebook Page.
According to Eric E. Huber, Senior Managing Attorney for the Sierra
Club Environmental Law Program, “This lawsuit could have a precedential
effect throughout Colorado as other communities work to pass similar
prohibitions on fracking and the disposal of its waste products within
In November 2012, the people of Longmont voted by an overwhelming
60% to amend the City Charter “to protect themselves from the harms
associated with hydraulic fracturing, including threats to public health
and safety, property damage and diminished property values, poor air
quality, destruction of landscape, and pollution of drinking and surface
water.” This historic ballot measure was spearheaded by the local
group, Our Longmont.
“The extraction process of hydraulic fracturing has not been proven
to be safe,” said Kaye Fissinger, managing member of Our Longmont.
“Further, the State of Colorado has created a situation where the
commission that oversees the oil and gas industry has an inherent
conflict of interest. It cannot simultaneously foster the development
of oil and gas and protect the health, safety and welfare of the
“We are taking this action because we hope to affirm the rights of
citizens and communities to guarantee a safe and healthy environment for
themselves and future generations,” said Michael Harris, Director of
the University Of Denver Sturm College Of Law Environmental Law Clinic.
He continued, “We are honored to represent Our Longmont, Food &
Water Watch, the Sierra Club and Earthworks.”
“It is imperative that Colorado communities have the ability to
protect their citizens from the many harmful impacts from oil and gas
mining operations,” said Shane Davis, Longmont resident and Sierra Club
Oil and Gas Team Information and Research Manager. “The industry has
operated largely without meaningful and safe regulations and we must not
let that happen any longer.”
Bruce Baizel, Director of Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability
Project, said, “The citizens of Longmont took this action because they
don’t trust state regulators to protect them. Rather than sue
communities acting to protect their public health, industry and the
state should be addressing legitimate community concerns by putting the
public’s health before industry profits.”
On February 14, 2013 the Sierra Club and Earthworks also filed a
motion to intervene in the State of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation
Commission’s lawsuit to invalidate a Longmont City Ordinance, passed by
the city council in July 2012, that would protect residents from the
pollution and associated health threats of oil and gas development.
The new rules immediately came under legal attack by the State of
Colorado calling into question the City’s authority to protect its own
citizens from the adverse effects of oil and gas development.
believe this is the first time a State has initiated a lawsuit against a
local government regarding oil and gas regulation,” said Eric Huber,
“If Longmont wants to prevent certain dirty and dangerous practices from
energy companies from happening, then that should be their right.”
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